Title: It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Pairings: Kiba x Shino

Genre: Romance, general, no smut, light fluff

Beta: Shishio, on AFF

Word count: 2,606 before, 2,671 after beta

Warnings: nothing serious, possibly OOC

Disclaimer: If I own Naruto, this would have happened. Which is why some people say it's good that I don't.

Summary: Outside, the storm raged on and on. Shino and Kiba were stuck inside to share a lime with each other, and they get to talking about Kiba's worries.

Kiba took a deep sniff, never minding the fact that he was dripping wet. He's thoroughly soaked only seconds after opening the living room window; that's how strong the storm was. The power was out and no one in Konoha had artificial lighting, which made the night as dark as the forest surrounding them. If it were possible, the living room seemed even darker than the opaque blackness outside. Catching no scent in the wind, he sniffed harder, deeper this time. He was home alone tonight, save for Akamaru and his buddy, Shino.

"Close that window," said buddy commanded in that soft toneless voice that passes for a command. Honestly, Kiba thought, his teammate's the only guy who can pull it off.


"You'll catch a cold," Shino added. Shino never repeated his statements no matter how short they were; instead, he reinforces what he said before. He figures that if you couldn't keep up with him in conversation, you weren't worth being around with. And he knew Kiba always heard him anyway. That's the reason why they became friends in the first place.


Shino contemplated that silence for a moment - and you could tell he was contemplating because he tilted his head a fraction - and decided that something was wrong. Of course, whenever Kiba didn't say anything, the sky would fall three seconds later. Shino didn't have to count to three to surmise that the sky was indeed falling in one sense, considering the storm that was making a ruckus outside.

All of Shino's friends knew that what he lacked in words, he made up for in his actions. And so he silently closed the window - thus shutting out the wind, the noise, and the water - knowing that Kiba ignored him for some reason. Time to find out what that reason was.

"Now we're both soaking wet."

Shaking off the stupor that held him before - and this he did with a literal shaking of his head - Kiba said, "Well, I guess we have to get out of these wet clothes then, huh?" Playfully, teasingly, erotically, Kiba traced a finger from his chin, down to his neck, his collarbones, then fingered his jacket's zipper. "Want to do the honors?"

Shino stared at him. True, they had done it before, but he didn't feel like it this time. As much as Kiba was energetic and playful, and there was no doubt his bed performance would never, ever wane, Shino knew that the sex-on-legs was distracted and the attempt at seduction was a defense mechanism: a way to distract Shino so they could be united in that sense. That was hardly therapeutic, if Shino could say so himself. Therefore, he undid his own jacket and turned away. Wordlessly, of course.

"Feisty. So you want to go ahead without me now, huh?" Kiba grinned.

Shino graced him with a lingering glance, an eyebrow raised for good measure. The message was simple: If you don't want to talk about it, then it's not worth joking about.

Kiba sighed. Sometimes, he wished he didn't know Shino well enough to interpret his glances accurately. Or maybe he wished that Shino didn't know Kiba knew him that well so he'd have leverage for happy misinterpretations. That look Shino just gave could have easily passed for a "come on," but noooooo

That, however, didn't mean he shouldn't try.

"That eyebrow thing's kind of sexy, you know. Now I may just have to let you fuck my brains out." Kiba knew that for a guy without many words, Shino seemed attracted to the dirtier end of the vocabulary.

Said eyebrow twitched.

Okay, that can't be good, Kiba thought to himself.

In that ghostly manner of his, Shino drifted, for it seemed more like drifting than walking, to the stocked fireplace. "Matches?"

Kiba broke off his attempts and went to a drawer. "Too bad we're no good with Katon ninjutsu." After a fair amount of rummaging around, he tossed a rattling box to his more-than-friend-not-quite-lover. Friends with benefits?

An almost solid sheet of rain slammed against the window, and with it were countless leaves torn from their branches.

Shino deftly caught the box and quickly lit the fireplace. The small ember he generated seemed promising so he stopped after that single attempt. He laid his jacket near enough to the fireplace to bask in the future warmth, but safely distant enough to avoid scorching. In his shorts and white sleeveless undershirt, Shino stood in front of the not-yet-roaring fireplace and waited for the other boy.

The meager firelight wasn't anything to see with now, but it was growing in intensity by the moment. Soon, the whole room would be flooded with flickering light and ash-smelling heat, and the warmth would just be comfortable enough against the freezing cold that permeated from outside.

Kiba looked down at himself and considered that his clothes were a lot wetter than Shino's jacket. Grin. "I think my clothes would need more heat than that." He took his jacket off, and this time his movements were devoid of erotica. His pants followed soon after, and he only took them off because he had knee-length undershorts on beneath them. He considered his fishnet shirt and decided it wasn't wet enough to take off. He laid his wet clothes beside Shino's jacket and sat on the floor.

When it became apparent that Shino was contented with the current situation, Kiba patted the floor beside him. "Sit with me."

Shino was fully aware that his collar wasn't hiding him now, so he put extra effort into controlling his frown. Or smirk. Kiba honestly didn't know what that twitch would have developed into, but getting any reaction out of the bug-boy was good enough. They hadn't worked out all the kinks in their "relationship" (Shino would raise his eyebrows and Kiba would scoff whenever Hinata would use that word) yet, but they were slowly getting there.

Outside, the wind roared stronger for a moment, and there was the distinct smack of something solid hitting the roof, rolling over and over until it fell of from one side.

Shino accepted the invitation and sat cross-legged beside his teammate.

The fire was stronger now, the light more orange and generous.

Shino knew that Kiba liked watching campfires from all the overnight missions they've had together, and he's spent countless moments studying that tattooed face by camp-firelight, moonlight, and starlight. This time, however, it was only by fireplace-firelight, and the contours of his eyebrow ridge, his nose, and his lips cast flickering shadows against the flatter surfaces of his face. Even though he sat semi-perfectly still - because this is Kiba we're talking about and he, for the life of him, cannot become perfectly still - the subtle movements of flame made dancing shadows on his face, and he seemed animated, talking, speaking, cajoling even without opening his mouth. His normally watchful eyes were lost in thought, and there Shino placed something out of normalcy. Kiba was looking at the fire with this look of longing in his eyes, but Shino knew of course that Kiba didn't long for the fire.

Kiba would speak in his time, and Shino waited patiently. Kiba was never like this with anyone else, always seen as the rambunctious, talkative, fidgety, i noisy /i kid in public, but Shino knew that even Kiba had his moments of silence, and he was glad that Kiba could have those moments even with him around. And so, Shino contented himself with studying the face that he always found attractive. Watching, adoring, and worshipping in his own way.

When he felt he was being watched, Kiba glanced over at Shino and grinned like only he can grin: feral, innocent, child-like, like the sun rising, lighting his face.

Lightning flashed and for an instant the whole world was blindingly white, but as soon as they recognized this fact the lightning was gone and thunder took its place. More rain against the windows, more leaves, more branches.

Shino waited, patient. Kiba would get around to speaking. The guy didn't have any trouble with words.

"I kind of feel… alone."

Shino was aware of how hard that statement was to say out loud, especially coming from an Inuzuka. The Inuzuka, with their pack instincts, their constant touching, their constant reassurances that the family would be behind each other, their refusal to separate from the clan even when they were forming families of their own. The Inuzuka, with their oddly clean home in spite of the many dogs that had to be shedding fur all over the place. The Inuzuka, with their constant touches, and hugs, and need to be together.

If there was ever any clan that was oppisite of the Aburame it was the Inuzuka. Funny, isn't it?

"Even with me?" Shino asked.

Kiba gave a short laugh. "We have our own kind of alone, and I don't resent it all. But… well." He hesitated, wondering if he ought to continue at all. "This is stupid, okay?"

"I'm used to it," smirking.

That called for a light playful punch. "I just can't smell my family today. It's like the storm scrubbed the air clean or something, and I can't find their scent. I know it's all over the house but the smell's old, rank... Not fresh at all."

Shino nodded. Kiba's mother and sister were out on separate missions for an indeterminate period of time. They've been gone for a week already, but Iruka-sensei reassured them that their missions might take half a month at best. They weren't genin missions, after all, which could be accomplished in just hours or days.

Kiba sighed. "I just miss them, that's all." He grinned the sunrise grin again, and Shino felt a small fluttering inside him. It was brighter now, warmer.

The fire was as strong as it would get.

"That's legitimate."

Kiba looked at him, the solemnity broken. "Legitimate? Since when have I ever been legit in any sense?"

"Now that you're the one left home, you worry about them the way they worry about you."

"And I tell you, it sucks to be worrying." Kiba inspected his nails, checked his clothes, and glanced at the fire when a knot in the wood popped. "I don't want to lose them, Shino. I don't want to lose anyone." He paused briefly. "That's a stupid thing to say for a ninja with ninja families and friends."

Shino knew where Kiba was coming from. Knew, because he's felt it before, been through it before: the impatience, the worrying, the questioning, the slow and helpless anger… the desire for safety, not for yours but for others. He knew them, felt them, and worked them out by himself, because he was Shino, because he was used to working things out by himself. Kiba was no such person, and Shino knew it was up to him to help his friend through it.

Outside, they heard a loud snap that could only be a tree limb being torn from the trunk.

"Worrying won't change a thing; you'll just stress yourself out."

"Gives me gas, too, but that's probably beside the point."

Shino stared and mentally guarded himself against bad odors in the near future, thankful that his bloodline didn't include a sensitive nose. "Besides, you're all ninjas for the same reason."

"Yeah… so we could protect each other. Damn hard to do when they're not around to protect."

Kiba stretched, and, for a moment his sculpted muscles were outlined against his almost-fully-dried shirt, enhanced and given a hypnotic quality by the firelight. Kiba lay down on the floor and stared at the dimly lit ceiling.

"It's hard to feel anything now, when all you feel is dread and worry."

Shino knew about that, too. Being a ninja meant being well acquainted with the ugly side of life, and living was more of a task than for pleasure. But still, life had its enjoyable moments. Missions accomplished, friends and family relieved that you're back in one piece, seeing your village is safe… those are the things ninjas live for, no matter how hard their profession was.

"It does two things: it's harder to form bonds for fear of pain, and your bonds become stronger. It's hard when they happen independently of each other."

"Yeah…" Kiba smiled this time, not grinned. He looked at Shino and definitely felt his attachment to the other man become stronger. "The second one's happening right now."

Shino, still sitting, didn't react, but the statement didn't go ignored.

"Sometimes," Kiba continued, "I feel like running away and taking you guys with me. No more worrying, no more missions, just a peaceful life on the other side of the world where we don't have to risk our selves. No more pain, no more unneeded death…"

About that, Shino knew only vaguely. He had never entertained such thoughts, seeing them as a waste of time and emotions. It appears that although Shino understands his emotions more easily, Kiba's more honest and indulgent with his own. Shino kept quiet; what Kiba needed now was a listener to his confessions, not advice or reassurance. At least, not yet.

Outside, the two boys too engrossed in their talk, the wind had died, the rain weakened, and the night was slowly reaching peace.

Kiba still hasn't taken his eyes away from the ceiling. "But I know what you'd say to that. You'd say something Zen-like, like, 'deal with what is,' or, 'sadly that's not the way the world works.' You'd tell me to focus on reality, and to not let these feelings bother me." Kiba punched the still sitting Shino playfully at the waist. "Am I right?"

Shino felt disturbed, and oddly, he felt that what he was about to say was not only directed at Kiba, but also at himself. He felt as if he should have told himself this long ago. "Emotions are facts, Kiba. They're also part of 'what is.' We have to deal with it, not deny it."

"Whoa. Wisdom. Deep." Grinning again. "I'd ask you to run away with me, but we know we'll both say, 'no'."


"This is how we ninjas deal with our reality, huh? We become stronger and fight." Kiba sat up and hugged Shino's waist from behind, and this time the bespectacled man didn't jump or start noticeably like the first times. Kiba pressed his nose against Shino's neck, while Shino touched Kiba's arms with his own, and they shared this intimacy for a moment.

Shino felt comfortable with this Inuzuka's need for touch, and it somehow awakened a similar need in him. Not that he'd go around touching people, of course, but he accepted the realization of how hungry he was for physical contact all along. Slowly, he was filling that hunger, and Kiba had a big part in it.

They basked in this shared warmth that complimented that of the fire's. Kiba took deep breaths, breathing in as much Shino smell as he can. "I guess I'll have to settle for your scent this month. Make sure you take a bath daily, okay?"

Shino smirked. "Maybe you should tell that to yourself."

Outside, the night had calmed and the storm had passed. The clouds, although not yet fully dissipated, were thinner and lighter, and the moonlight was able to penetrate subtly. The streets of Konoha were wet and messy with trash, leaves, and fallen branches, and the city was still dark. But over all, with the wind no longer howling and the branches and leaves no longer flying, Konoha's peace was restored. People in their houses, those still awake, at least, cheered the stop of the downpour by running out the streets, meeting friends, enjoying the outside.

In one house, by the fireplace, two boys celebrated the peace in each other's arms, finding a peace by themselves and for themselves alone, separated from the rest of the world. Whether or not additional clothes were shed is another matter entirely.

♥ Fin

A/N: Reviews and constructive criticism are most welcome, because it is by those means that I get better at writing. Please review ♥